A change in the way the Northwest Territories is governed has territorial job recruiters busy down south, amid a rare hiring spree during a time of bureaucratic downsizing.

The federal government is transferring control of Crown land, water and resources — including oil, gas and mining — to the territory on April 1.

Mark Warren will be deputy minister of the new "department of lands" when the switch is made.

"It's political evolution in the Northwest Territories," he said.

Nearly double previous amount of workers

Blair Chapman, who works in human resources for the territorial government, said they’re looking to fill 260 jobs.

Blair Chapman NWT

Blair Chapman works in HR for the Northwest Territories government, which is hiring about 130 brand-new workers for April 1. (Kate Porter/CBC)

He said there were 135 federal employees affected and 131 have taken jobs with the territory.

Officials held a job fair in Ottawa over the weekend to see if they could attract applicants to fill the rest of the positions.

"We know there’s a cadre of very experienced individuals who have the type of background and experience we want to come work with us… land management areas, oil and resource management…" he said.

Warren said there could be an opportunity to attract some of the employees with departments such as aboriginal affairs and northern development.

"As well…  the federal government has gone through their own deficit reduction action plan and there's a number of people looking for work," he said.

Stephen Dickerson lives in Ottawa but said he found the pay, benefits and idea of an outdoorsy lifestyle appealing.

"I’m in engineering technology so there’s lots of potential for jobs up there," he said.

New direct flight this week

If Ottawans do end up moving to Yellowknife or other parts of the Northwest Territories, they’ll have a new way to get there starting this week.


An Air North 737 takes off from the Whitehorse Airport. The airline's first direct Yellowknife to Ottawa flight takes off Feb. 6. (Air North)

Air North’s first direct flight from Ottawa to Yellowknife, then on to Whitehorse, runs this Thursday.

The company said they expect the new route will attract government travellers of all kinds and make the western Arctic more accessible to eastern Canadians.

Warren St. Germaine is comptroller-general for the Northwest Territories and said the trip that currently takes about 12 hours will be cut down to four.

"I think it opens up opportunities beyond just government business, I think it makes it a lot more attractive for regular residents to travel back and forth and see more of our country," he said.

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